Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jean Adams,
Professor Daniel Nettle,
Dr Eugene Milne,
Professor Carol Jagger
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).
BackgroundIndividuals may make a rational decision not to engage in healthy behaviours based on their assessment of the benefits of such behaviours to them, compared to other uncontrollable threats to their health. Anticipated survival is one marker of perceived uncontrollable threats to health. We hypothesised that greater anticipated survival: a) is cross-sectionally associated with healthier patterns of behaviours; b) increases the probability that behaviours will be healthier at follow up than at baseline; and c) decreases the probability that behaviours will be 'less healthy' at follow than at baseline.MethodsData from waves 1 and 5 of the English Longitudinal Survey of Ageing provided 8 years of follow up. Perceptions of uncontrollable threats to health at baseline were measured using anticipated survival. Health behaviours considered were self-reported cigarette smoking, physical activity level, and frequency of alcohol consumption. A wide range of socio-economic, demographic, and health variables were adjusted for.ResultsGreater anticipated survival was cross-sectionally associated with lower likelihood of smoking, and higher physical activity levels, but was not associated with alcohol consumption. Lower anticipated survival was associated with decreased probability of adopting healthier patterns of physical activity, and increased probability of becoming a smoker at follow up. There were no associations between anticipated survival and change in alcohol consumption.ConclusionsOur hypotheses were partially confirmed, though associations were inconsistent across behaviours and absent for alcohol consumption. Individual assessments of uncontrollable threats to health may be an important determinant of smoking and physical activity.
Author(s): Adams J, Stamp E, Nettle D, Milne EMG, Jagger C
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: PLoS ONE
Online publication date: 23/03/2015
Acceptance date: 22/01/2015
ISSN (electronic): 1932-6203
Publisher: Public Library of Science
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